cover image The Protective One

The Protective One

Shelley Shepard Gray. Gallery, $16 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-98-210091-9

Shepard Gray continues her Amish Walnut Creek series (after A Precious Gift) with this slow-burning, enjoyable romance. Elizabeth “E.A.” Anne and Will are both members of “The Eight,” a group of lifelong friends now in their mid-20s, but they are the last two of the group without partners or clear direction for their lives. E.A. gives sewing lessons and Will works in a trailer factory; both are looking for something more meaningful. E.A. boots potential suitor David—who, by all measures, seems perfect for her—after she recognizes that David, despite his dedication and Mennonite upbringing, is not what she is looking for in a life partner. Then, after the death of a close mutual friend, E.A. and Will reconnect and she begins to see him in a new light. As their friendship deepens, E.A. is struck with a new challenge after she discovers one of her students, Marta, is in an abusive marriage. While Marta struggles to leave her relationship, E.A. and Will find safety and security in theirs. Embedded in this quaint story is a poignant message about the importance of community, compassion, and doing what’s right rather than what’s easy. The author’s fans and newcomers alike will enjoy this appealing tale. (Jan.)